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December 2023

Young Kitten Care

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

If you find a very young kitten, there are some important things that you should know in order to take care of it properly.  First of all you should try to determine the age of the kitten. Here are some guidelines that may help. This will also help determine whether of not the kitten needs to be bottle fed.

  • Eyes closed, ears folded over – kitten is 1 – 14 days old
  • Eyes are open, kitten moves around but is wobbly – 2 – 3 weeks old
  • Eyes are open, ears up, can walk around – 3 – 4 weeks old
  • Running around and is difficult or impossible to catch – 4 – 8 weeks old or older.
  • 1 – 3 weeks old – will need to be bottle fed.
  • 3 weeks and older – can be offered soft food, but may need to be bottle-fed.

If you find that the kitten is cold, warm her very slowly and gently by holding her against your bare skin. This will allow her to absorb your body heat. Being cold is very dangerous to kittens. Do not submerge her in warm water or use any method that would heat her too quickly.Wrapping her in a blanket or towel is not sufficient. She must get her heat from your body. Do not try to feed a cold kitten. Wait until her body temperature is at least 90 degrees.

Make a kitten box and put a heating pad in the box and also leave some area not covered by the pad so that the kitten could crawl toward the heating pad when she needs to. If they do not have an area away from the pad, they could become dehydrated and die. Turn the heating pad on low and cover it with a towel. Never put the kitten directly on the heating pad. Place the box in a clean, dry area.

Here are some supplies that you’ll need for a neonatal kitten:

  • Heating pad
  • Kitten Milk formula or replacement
  • Hot water bottle (must be wrapped in towel)
  • Feeding bottle and several nipples
  • Eye dropper or syringe (without needle)
  • Several bath towels for bedding and cleaning kittens
  • Scale for weighing kittens (optional)
  • Rectal thermometer (kittens normal temperature is between 100 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Have Emergency Vet Clinic number handy.(Ask if they have experience with orphaned kittens)

To feed the kitten, never give them cows milk. They should be fed kitten milk formula found at most pet stores. Warm the formula in a nursing bottle or medicine dropper by sub merging it in hot water. Test the formula as you would do for a child by pouring it onto your wrist. Place the kitten on her stomach at a 45 degree angle.  Let her drink until she turns her head. Do not hold the kittens head back. Avoid getting air in her stomach by holding the bottle at an angle.

Important – after the kitten is finished eating ,you’ll need to stimulate her in order for her to eliminate. Kittens digestive systems are not that developed at this age. Get a lukewarm towel and or wash cloth and gently massage her anal area with a small, circular or back and forth motion. This needs to be done until the kitten is at least three weeks old.

Follow the feeding schedule below:

Age in Weeks/Feedings per day

  • 1 week old – needs 6 feedings per day
  • 2 weeks old – needs 6 feedings per day
  • 3 weeks old – needs 4 feedings per day
  • 4 weeks old – needs 3 feedings per day

Never over feed the kitten.

Later on you’ll need a litter pan and other cat accessories but make sure that you’ve gotten through this initial period first. Much of this information was provided by Home at Last animal rescue.

Remember, your pets count!

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